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Mineral sands producer Kenmare Resources (LN:KMR) is on track to achieve its highest ever annual ilmenite production from the Moma mine in Mozambique after a record September quarter.
Finished ilmenite product volumes rose 6% on the year to a record 257,500 tonnes for the quarter, bringing its output for the January-September period to 762,000t, according to an Investec note.
“With [Kenmare] now consistently delivering over 250,000t per quarter, it looks well placed to meet its FY17 target of 950,000-1.05 million tonnes, which will be a record production level and well above the 903,000t in FY16,” Investec said.
Kenmare said production of ilmenite in the December quarter would be closely related to heavy mineral concentrate (HMC) volumes produced as it had significantly drawn down on stockpiles in the September quarter, as was expected.
However, it forecasts better mining conditions in the December quarter, which should result in higher tonnes mined.
The company mined a total of 7.8Mt of ore during the September quarter, up 9% year-on-year, at a grade of 4.15%, down from 4.81% a year ago.
HMC production for the quarter fell 16% on the year to 272,600t, due to the declining grade and recoveries impacted by higher slimes levels.
Meanwhile, finished zircon production for the quarter fell 8% year-on-year to 18,100t as Kenmare increased intermediate zircon stocks while it progressed ongoing circuit modifications.
The miner enjoyed solid demand outside of China for ilmenite during the September quarter as pigment plants maintained high operating rates. In China, domestic supply has become tighter, although there is uncertainty over pigment plant operating rates due to environmental regulation enforcement.
“China spot ilmenite prices have begun to strengthen, following a weaker period in recent months, while zircon prices continue to improve strongly,” Kenmare said.
It noted that favourable supply-demand dynamics in the zircon market are expected to continue during the December quarter, with price increasing.(source:minigjournal)